Many readers of the Philadelphia Trumpet newsmagazine tell us they recognize the same message the Plain Truth carried for 52 years under the direction of its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong. Subscribers even point to similarities between our style of writing and presentation compared to the Plain Truth in its heyday.
There is a reason for this—and it will be made plain in this publication.
Mr. Armstrong was one of the most prominent religious leaders of the 20th century. He was watched, read and followed by millions of people worldwide. At the time of his death in 1986, the newsmagazine he founded was produced in seven languages; global circulation peaked at 8.4 million. (By comparison, Time magazine’s circulation that year was 5.9 million.)
What happened to the Plain Truth? One example, in particular, will explain.
For more than five decades under Mr. Armstrong’s leadership, year in and year out the Plain Truth had powerfully and consistently shouted a warning in print about the revival and unification of Germany. It proclaimed that Germany would be the dominant force behind a powerful union of European nation-states that would surpass the Russian bloc and even Britain and America in power and hegemony. Imagine predicting that when Germany lay in rubble after World War ii. But that’s what the Plain Truth did.
Mr. Armstrong did not live to see the Berlin Wall breached on November 9, 1989, or Germany unite on October 3 a year later. By that time, however, an amazing thing had occurred—those who took over publishing the Plain Truth after Mr. Armstrong’s death in 1986 had totally changed its editorial policy!
Here is what the publishers of the “new look” Plain Truth said about that earth-shattering event in 1989: “Following the spectacular news about the opening of the Berlin Wall, we unexpectedly received a call from a news station in Seattle. The news director was well aware of the World Tomorrow program and the fact that for more than 40 years the Church had been predicting the reunification of Europe in some form. He asked for on-air comments about whether the Church believed the opening of the wall was the commencement of end-time prophetic events.
“We responded that it was premature to make statements like that ….
“The news director was disappointed that we would not proclaim this to be the absolute beginning of end-time events, but it was interesting that he did say that what the Church has predicted from the Bible was remarkably close to what appears to be happening” (Worldwide Church of God Pastor General’s Report, Nov. 21, 1989; emphasis added).
To long-time readers of the Plain Truth, such a weak assessment of the dramatic events surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall was dumbfounding. The magazine had lost its vision, its reason for being! It was fast beginning to deny its editorial heritage of forecasting events boldly and outspokenly—based on the foundation of “a more sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19). Readership dropped off quickly. Soon the publishers were facing a financial crisis as subscribers’ donations disappeared. Readers and supporters of Mr. Armstrong’s flagship magazine decamped in droves.
At one time, those readers had a vision—a vision of reality that gave them a confidence in the future. Millions of Plain Truth readers who saw the Berlin Wall tumbling down via television news combed the pages of the Plain Truth in vain, searching for a perspective on the next event that would hasten the rise of the European power Mr. Armstrong had prophesied.
Many of those former Plain Truth readers are now among the hundreds of thousands who receive the Trumpet.
In 1990, we started the Trumpet with a shoestring budget, a handful of subscribers and one objective: to pick up where Mr. Armstrong left off.
In Revelation 10:11, God gave one of His servants a commission to “prophesy again.” That command, if you understand the context, reveals the need for the work we are doing today. Mr. Armstrong had a strong work of prophesying. But then that work was tragically dismantled—and God had to raise up another organization to do that work again. Our work is grounded in what God taught through Mr. Armstrong and what He is teaching today. We follow what Mr. Armstrong did, building on the understanding he had.
This publication is a look back at our roots. Our staff scoured through decades of old Plain Truth issues, looking for bold predictions. We then matched those prophetic statements with what actually happened, or is now happening, on the world scene.
The result was amazing. The sheer number of prophetic statements made by Mr. Armstrong and his editorial team, and their accuracy, will astound you. This booklet is by no means exhaustive. But it does pretty well encapsulate what the Plain Truth was about for more than 50 years.
It’s a remarkable history that is truly important to remember. This lengthy track record of accurate predictive analysis should build our faith in the certainty of biblical prophecy.
God has opened our understanding of these events in advance for several important reasons. It is up to us to take advantage of it.